Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam has admitted that he wants to overthrow Bashar’s government. But he still insists he doesn’t harbour any intentions of becoming President.
Don’t forget, Khaddam was President in the interim period between Hafez’s death and Bashar’s appointment. There was said to be much wrangling behind the scenes, with many thinking Khaddam – who had been at the top since the very begining – should be made president over the inexperienced son.
Bashar also revealed that Khaddam was plotting while still in office just before being ousted six months ago.
In revelations more suited to Kuwaiti gossip-rag As-Siyassiyah than a man who was the second most powerful person in Syria until six months ago, he also says he wants Bashar to go to prison. He accuses him of being personally responsible for Hariri’s death.
But even though he says he wants regime change, he says that he is totally opposed to external help – i.e. a US invasion. Interesting then, that he has chosen exile in France not the US. Does this signal something about France’s intentions?
It is also very interesting that the US has stayed utterly silent (apart from a couple of John Bolton utterances) for the past couple of months – I find it very difficult to accept that they still haven’t used the Khaddam affair to their advantage.
Meanwhile Khaddam says he has been interviewed by UN investigators over allegations he made that Bashar threatened Hariri. Bashar says there’s no way Khaddam could make such claims because there was no one in the meeting apart from Bashar and Hariri.
Khaddam was a close personal friend of Hariri, as well as being a regime hardliner and member of the old guard linked to Hafez’s brutality. He opposed Bashar’s reform, and sucessfully blocked Bashar from bringing non-Ba’ath politicians into government.
To understand the Khaddam flare up, it’s necessary to understand the Khaddam-Hariri-Saudi-French connections. Josh Landis has a useful analysis. And in the coming days I am planning a backgrounder on the whole ‘Hariri year’.
Khaddam insists he still has more ‘revelations’ – it promises to be an exciting year.